Cisco Systems' group manager for Asia and the Pacific Rim, Larry McManus, is conducting a whirlwind tour of Australia, meeting with regional sales managers and monitoring the progress of Cisco's Inside Sales approach to channel partners.
"About five years ago, Cisco Systems started to develop what we call an Inside Sales organisation, which has really started to take off in the US. We wanted to provide the channel with the right support, especially for our third-tier channel partners," McManus explained.
The three-tier channel program replaces Cisco's former two-tier system in an effort to divide channel partners according to their support needs. According to McManus, the structure allows Cisco to identify areas where the vendor's training and accreditation programs might be of assistance.
Smaller resellers represent the third tier of the Inside Sales organisation and will receive many of the training and development benefits of the program. The three-tier organisation is designed to provide these smaller resellers with the skills they need to expand their markets.
The program covers sales and marketing as well as technical training. McManus explained that Cisco's growth was closely tied in with the skills base of the reseller channel.
"We need more resellers that have the expertise to install specific applications like broadband cable networks, for example. We do very little of that ourselves and we want that to go through the reseller channel so they can benefit from Cisco's growth. We needed a mechanism to develop and encourage these skills in the channel."While Cisco is encouraging channel players to develop and broaden their skill base, they are also aware of the importance of vertical markets and specialist skills.
"We have channel partners who began small, offering a very specific service and grew with our markets because they were recognised as specialists in a specific area," McManus added.